A few weeks ago, I went to the office of Sagip party-list Rep. Erlinda Santiago in Congress to get her side of the story about reported overpricing by her publishing company, Books on Wheels, of its textbook deliveries to the Department of Education.
Her staff said she was not in the office at the time. We called her over two successive days but to no avail. The party-list lawmaker did not return our calls.
Santiago, however, reportedly allowed herself to be interviewed by a small religious television station a few days later, denying the reports on overpricing of textbooks by Book on Wheels.
The interviewer did not ask Santiago about her company’s income tax payments from 2008 to the present.
There were inconsistencies in Book on Wheels’ tax payments based on a computer printout from the Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR), and that’s my topic in my next column.
The interviewer also failed to ask Santiago if she still owns the company because, if she does, conflict of interests will arise since she is a member of the House Committee on Basic Education and Culture.
Legally or illegally within the agency, this DAR official makes huge amounts of money.
Besides earning fat commissions from every project at the Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR), this official reportedly also amassed wealth from the priority development assistance fund through her kumadre Janet Lim-Napoles.
The official, who is known as “Ma’am Tess” at the department, reportedly received her kickbacks inside cartons of sardines during the Arroyo administration.
A DAR employee who asked not to be identified said “Ma’am Tess” received three boxes full of money in her office during lunchbreaks sometime in 2008.
Her co-workers were not surprised anymore when she was able to allegedly acquire a large seaside resort in Pangasinan and a mansion somewhere in Manila.
But not all of “Ma’am Tess” money is illegal, said my spy inside the agrarian agency. She reportedly has a business that has been making money inside the compound of the department since the term of then-President Gloria Arroyo.
Many believe that she may be using the business as a front to cover the kickbacks or “tongpats” she receives from unscrupulous contractors.
Very clever, “Ma’am Tess!”
Henares vows to go after DSB and Three W construction firms
In an interview with Radyo 5 last Friday, BIR Commissioner Kim Henares said she will go after construction companies that do not pay taxes.
Henares made the announcement after it was brought to her attention that some contractors of the Department of Public Work and Highways that are subject of a congressional inquiry do not pay taxes too.
Two of these companies are DSB Construction, owned by Dante A. Bombales, and Three W Builders, operated by Victoriano L. Ada.
According to a BIR computer printout, DSB was registered at the tax agency but never paid its taxes.
Three W did not register at all, thus it never paid any taxes at all too.
The two construction firms are among the 12 companies being investigated by the House Committee on Good Governance and Public Accountability for cornering P19.2 billion in road works—which were found to be overpriced or substandard—during the Arroyo administration.
These companies should be banned for life from getting projects from the government.